‘Celebrity tutor’ charged over leaked exam questions

Picture via Facebook

High-profile tutor Weslie Siao Chi-yung has been charged with illegally obtaining questions for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education’s (DSE) Chinese language exams.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption announced the charges against Siao, 42, his wife Tsai Ying-ying, 33, and former oral examiners Cheung Kwok-kuen and Ng Wang-leung on Monday.

The agency found that Cheung and Tsai, an Invigilator of the 2017 Chinese language test, allegedly used their smartphones to send Siao confidential questions from the 2016 and 2017 exams. Ng also allegedly sent Siao confidential information about a briefing session on the 2017 Chinese language exam.

Siao and his wife are among high-profile “celebrity” tutors at Modern Education, a private “cram school”, that helps students prepare for secondary school exams.

Specializing in Chinese language, Siao’s YouTube channel boasts 10,000 subscribers while his Facebook page has nearly 41,000 likes.

He and his wife are charged with obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent. Siao and Cheung also face a joint charge of conspiring to obtain access to a computer with dishonest intent in 2016, and Siao and Ng are accused of committing a similar offense in 2017.

The four — who were were classmates at Shue Yan University, formerly known as Shue Yan College, according to The Standard — will appear in court on Wednesday.

The high-pressure Chinese exam is a requirement for getting into local public universities.

Fifty-six percent of day school candidates obtained a level three — the minimum needed to score a spot — in 2017, according to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

“Tutor kings” like Siao are a phenomenon in Hong Kong, where, according to the New York Times, they advertise their promises to help students ace exams through Facebook and even music videos — and earn tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars per year in the process.

If you’re wondering what these music videos look like, here’s one from Beacon College — one of the city’s biggest cram schools which in 2015 sought a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange — where they did a frame-by-frame copy of the music video for The End by local pop rock band Dear Jane.

Siao was also mentioned in a 2015 SCMP article about the lucrative industry.

A WhatsApp number listed for Siao went unanswered this morning.

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